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Educational versus Personal Pursuits

  1. Sep 15, 2005 #1
    I’m dealing with a slightly embarrassing inner struggle and I’m not sure who to turn to, so I’m posting this here where I’m anonymous and none of you know me. There are pros and cons of soliciting advice from strangers, but I’m not going to make a major life decision based on what is said here, I just need some outsiders’ perspectives.

    I’m a senior at a good but not-a-big-name university. I am researching grad schools to pursue my PhD. I am interested in a relatively tiny field of physics that not very many places are involved in; what that field is or where I’d go to participate in research is irrelevant to this particular thread.

    As I stated, I’m researching grad schools for next year, but with almost no motivation. My goal is to obtain my doctorate and have a career researching cool physics for NASA, and my passion is not lacking, but I am hesitant about my next move, mainly for personal reasons.

    As an undergrad, I found the man of my dreams and will marry him. He graduates in December and will get a job in January. His parents live an hour away, so he wants to stay in this area, or at least this state. There are many companies around here that could hire him, and I have no doubt that he’ll be hired nearly immediately. Do you see my problem already?

    He told me that he’d wait for me, and for a while I pretended that might work, but in all honestly I can barely stand summers away from him, let alone 5 or 6 years! Whenever I bring up the suggestion of him following me, he changes the subject. I really can’t say I blame him; he’s nervous about the hiring environment and can’t afford to be picky. It’s also a little selfish of me to ask him to start at a company in January and switch jobs or transfer only a few months later.

    I love where I currently am. I love my school. I love this area. I love the people here. I would be perfectly happy if my life stayed exactly how it is right now. However, is this best for my education and career? Going to grad school at the same university as undergrad seems to be looked down upon, although I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve been told it’s good to move around, but why move when I’m happy?

    I count myself extremely lucky to have gotten an internship this summer working in the field I am interested in. I am even luckier to have worked out an arrangement where I am working my senior research project with my summer advisor long-distance. We’re still ironing out bugs, but so far the arrangement is working really well. I am seriously thinking about asking him to be my advisor for grad school, as he previously suggested may be an option. I worry that, if I ask him, he’ll want me to go to his university. It’s a good school (roughly at the same level as my current school), but it’s 8 hours away. Could he be my grad advisor long-distance, just as he is my research advisor now? I know it would probably be better for me academically to attend a university which is doing research that I am interested in, but is it absolutely necessary? I haven’t approached him with any of these questions yet because I feel it’s premature, but I may do so in the future.

    As I said before, my passion is by no means lacking. If there’s a way that I can get what I want, I will do everything in my power to do it. Of course, being only an undergrad, I don’t have a lot of power, but I do have a very strong will, and I don’t like compromising important things in my life. Bottom line: love is more important to me than anything else. But I also want to do what’s best for my education and career.

    This may seem like the whiney ramblings of a very young girl, but I would really appreciate suggestions and advice. Thank you all!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2005 #2
    your in biophysics ain't yah....any ways it hink you should follow your heart(if you are truly happy) wuppidoo if schools frown upon you going to the same school for your bsc,phd... i mean you could always become a teacher. how reputable your school is in your field of choice...and would it be guaranteed that you get in or a school that would be 1-2 hours away...then you can compromise if your both willing to commute 1.5 hrs(though thats probably not the best idea). As long as you can get a good education in research at yhour school then 2 thumbs up...
    what you will need to look up are scholarships and conferences and perhaps graduate special programmes...like carnegie mellons/upitts CNBC for computational neurosci those may benefit you.
    The main concern would be how your personal life will effect your research life in regards to time.
  4. Sep 17, 2005 #3
    Hello Neurocomp,

    Thank you for your kind response. I am not looking to get involved in biophysics, and I can't really compromise by commuting because the closest university is probably the my research advisor's (8 hours away), but I do appriciate your suggestions.

    I will look into conferences and graduate scholarships. If I stay here, I'll need full financial support, and my current university isn't cheap.

    My fiance and I have been together all throughout my undergraduate career, so I would say we've learned to balance our work and play time well. I'm not planning on having kids any time soon.

    Thank you again for taking the time to respond!
  5. Sep 17, 2005 #4
    I guess the obvious question is, are you sure that you definitely want to get involved in this particular area of Physics? It could be worth exploring alternative fields to work in. You might even find one you like more than your current choice and that would not force you to make a compromise.

    I also think you need to have a serious discussion with your fiance to understand what he really feels and how much he's willing to compromise, considering that while his career will be likely viable somewhere else, yours may not be. He may need to compromise, as well.
  6. Sep 18, 2005 #5
    Hmmmm... sounds like a solution that would solve this would be to go to grad school at the same university. While it might be frowned upon you won't be frowning when everythign else works out right.

    Also, i should comment that everything's oriented towards your finace right now. I'm not sure why he wants to stay so close to his parents (unless they're terminally ill) but people move around all the time.
  7. Sep 18, 2005 #6
    I think you and your fiance should have a discussion so you know just how far he'd be willing to follow you and support your goals... the fact that he keeps changing the subject indicates you probably haven't had this conversation yet and need to.
    Best of luck. :smile:
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